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Blantyre Pushes Ahead with Controversial Bill

A bill to liberalise Malawi’s abortion laws will be debated by MPs on Thursday in the face of opposition from faith groups. If passed, the termination of pregnancy bill would allow abortions when a woman’s mental or physical health is in danger, in cases of rape and incest, and when there are serious foetal abnormalities. Currently, abortion is only permitted to save a woman’s life and campaigners have been lobbying for change for many years. The bill has been proposed by MP Matthews Ngwale, who said change was needed after “observing that there are an ever increasing number of justifiable situations for the termination of unwanted pregnancies, which have not been covered by existing law”. Pro-choice campaigners believe almost half of the 193 MPs in the national assembly back the bill, but there is strong opposition. The Episcopal Conference of Malawi, the Evangelical Association of Malawi, Malawi Council of Churches and the Muslim Association of Malawi have long resisted any attempt to change the law. Attempts to introduce the bill in 2016 were rejected after protests.